Ever noticed how you switch from being playful to being too serious. How you can be really pessimistic and sometimes optimistic? Caring and compassionate today, cold tomorrow? Almost like you have two or more personalities?
If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve probably gone online, searched on google, seen Multiple personality disorder or Disassociative personality disorder (D.I.D), and thought to yourself, “I have that.”
Before you do that, it’s essential to understand the difference between personality and behaviour. Our behaviour is how we react to situations and our environment, depending on how we perceive them. This means you can respond differently to different persons and situations. Sometimes, what is different isn’t the situation, but one’s perception about them. Person A can tell a joke, and you’ll be laughing while person B tells that same joke, and you might even get offended.
A recurrent behaviour is part of one’s personality; however, personality is so complex that a person can have more than one recurrent behaviour, sometimes they could be opposites. Most personality tests consider and search for the most dominant behaviours and attitudes or separate them into groups.
Sometimes what we think are two different personalities might just be two strongly opposing, recurring behaviours or attitudes. Still, if you feel you have DID, it’s crucial you study more about the mental disorder itself rather than following what is seen on popular media. The best way to confirm is to get a diagnosis from a mental health professional.
Here are some myths about DID and the truths behind them.
1. People with DID can switch from one personality to the next when they feel like
It’s rare to hear people say things along the line of, “I have two sides, if you provoke me, I’ll change it for you.” The ability to change it for someone is like a form of superpower for most people. They can switch from one behaviour or attitude to the next. Persons with DID, however, are not so fortunate.
One of the many things DID is characterized by is a lack of control. This means that persons with DID cannot control when or where their alters come out. Alters are what the fragmented personalities are called. They can, however, recognize what triggers the occurrence of these alters and learn to prevent and manage them.
2. Persons with DID have a spirit in them.
There has so far been no evidence that points to persons having DID being possessed. On the contrary, the personalities that occur are a fragment of the primary personality. Depending on how severe the condition is, these personalities can differ in name, gender, accent, and even language. These personalities can take on a different identity from the host’s (the main character), but they are still fragmented.
3. They are born that way.
Two things familiar with DID persons are a history of trauma and a lack of emotional bond with an adult. Persons with DID often have an account for the host to go on with life without the burdens that come with trauma.
Persons with DID also record not having proper emotional bonds with an adult while growing. Researchers believe that the lack of this bond meant they couldn’t learn how to manage their reactions to the abuse they were dealt with properly at this stage of their lives. In simpler terms, these persons were alone. Although they were not born with DID, their minds shattered their personalities into pieces for them to survive their abuse.
4. They are aware when another personality takes over.
Perhaps the most common traits of Dissociative Identity Disorder, or split personality as it’s fondly called, are mind gaps. If you are fully aware, conscious, and present when your other personality occurs, you might not have a dissociative personality disorder.
Persons with DID often experience time lapses. These time-lapses are when other personalities take over. They would forget when they took or dropped things, said things, did something, went places. This is not a form of amnesia as they can adequately remember experiences they were consciously a part of at any point in their life.
Part of the reason DID can go undiagnosed for years is that these memory lapses can be tossed aside due to stress. The switch might not even be noticeable because the difference between personalities isn’t much.
5. People with multiple personalities are dangerous.
They are less likely to harm others. If anything, they might hurt themselves. Most times, persons with Dissociative Identity Disorder have Alters who act as prosecutors. These Alters will try to harm the host personality but rarely in life-threatening ways as they recognize their bodies’ needs.
This desire to harm the host comes from guilt and shame the person harbours, often due to their abuse. Put simply, the person blames themself for whatever trauma they went through and wants to punish themself, so their mind assigns an alter to deliver that punishment.
6. Alters are flamboyant
It is extremely sporadic to see personalities with different accents, much less language. While it’s often believed that alters are flamboyant, violent, extremely excessive, and separate from the hosts; this is far from the truth.
In reality, there isn’t usually much of a difference between alters and the host. It’s for this reason that it would be hard for people to recognize those with DID. Alters don’t merely say their names once they take over or start acting out. They can and often continue whatever the host was occupied with, though they do it in ways peculiar to the alter.
An example, a person with DID can arrive home for work and decide to head straight to bed, and something triggers an alter to take over. Instead of sleeping immediately, the alter decides to freshen up and change the sheets. The host wakes up and sees themself in their nightwear with a new bedsheet on their bed, and they don’t remember ever doing anything.
7. Once an Alter takes control, the host is locked away.
This disorder was changed from Multiple Personality Disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder because researchers discovered that the switch and relationship between the numerous personalities are closer than was imagined. The characters were not separate entities, but parts of a shattered personality.
When an alter takes over, the host dissociates. This means the host turns to the third party in their bodies. Depending on how difficult the situation is, they might witness what is happening but not feel like they’re the ones acting, or they might be completely absent from the experience.
To dissociate means to separate yourself unwillingly and unconsciously from a direct experience you are having. Think of it as an out-of-body experience – it’s happening, you see it happen, but the person that is reacting isn’t you; it’s someone else in your body, and you’re simply a spectator.
Dissociative Identity Disorder sounds just as complicated as it is. It’s a disorder that can frighten and overwhelm the persons involved, especially if they are ignorant. We at 360psyche have are professionals trained at recognizing and diagnosing disorders.
We aim to help clients live healthier, fulfilling lives. If you have any questions concerning ‘split’ personalities, DID, and any other disorder, you can ask the therapist for free at our forum. If you are still in doubt or suspect you might have DID or any other mental illness, book a session with any of our professionals.
Your mental health is our priority.